Destructive Emotions 101

By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC

verified by Psychology Today

As humans, we all have a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative, helpful and destructive. In order to have control of our emotions, we have to take control of destructive emotions.

By that, we don’t mean suppressing them or ignoring them, but rather understanding them and how to handle them. We all have negative emotions, but we all also have the power to keep them from becoming destructive. In this article, we’ll explore how to keep your negative emotions under a healthy control, keeping them from becoming destructive.

What are negative emotions and how can they become destructive?

Negative emotions typically refer to those that have a negative connotation, i.e. sadness, anger, fear, etc. These emotions are entirely normal to experience and every human does at one point or another. However, when allowed to get out of hand, these emotions can become destructive. There are a number of ways in which they can get out of hand.

If you don’t possess emotional intelligence, you may not understand how to control what your feeling and thus not see the potential problem. When these negative emotions get out of hand and become destructive, poor decisions are made and dangerous events could take place.

Controlling your emotions

Controlling your emotions refers to expressing them healthily, exploring them, and working through them in a healthy manner. This does not mean to suppress them or ignore them in any way. Keeping your emotions bottled up and allowing them to fester is a surefire way to allow them to become destructive.

When you experience a negative emotion such as anger, fear, or sadness, take a minute to analyze it.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling it?
  • What would make me feel better in this situation?
  • What is a healthy way to express how I’m feeling?

You may find that, as you come to better understand what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it, that you’ve calmed down quite a bit in the process.

Expressing your emotions in a healthy way

There are several, healthier ways to express your emotions and keep you from either bottling them up or overreacting to them. You can express your emotions in a healthy way by first taking a beat to analyze what’s wrong and why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, then expressing to either yourself or the individual that you’re upset with what the problem was and how you can work to rectify it.

Letting your emotions fester and boil inside can cause you to react poorly.

How to identify if your emotions are hitting destructive levels

If you feel yourself starting to get overly worked up and notice that you’re jumping to rash reactions, you’re probably heading down the road to your emotions becoming destructive.

Anger can cause you to do something violent, dangerous, or vindictive that you wouldn’t have otherwise done. Sadness can cause you to say things you didn’t mean and hurt those you love. Mainly you need to be aware of whether or not your reactions are hitting dangerous or unhealthy levels.

We all have to deal with negative emotions that have the potential to take a destructive path. However, if we control our emotions in a healthy way and drive ourselves to act rationally, we can prevent them from getting to that point.

Destructive emotions can damage relationships, cause you to act irrationally or even dangerously, and can cause yourself damage; it could even lead to legal trouble. If you handle your emotions in a healthy way, you can avoid destructive emotions damaging any area of your life.

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